Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Madrid, my love

If you'd asked me 2 years ago, which city is my favorite, I would have answered without hesitation: London. That was before I visited Madrid. My husband tried to take me there many times, but for some reason I was very skeptical. When I looked at the pictures of the city, first thing that came to my mind was "hmm, not very interesting, next". Thank God I listened to him for a change!
Madrid is the capital of Spain and third largest city in Europe. With its colorful history, there is no wonder how many beautiful and important buildings surround this town. But what struck me the most was the amazing vibe. You could feel it everywhere. Vigorously contagious mood crawls under your pores and serves them a huge feast of happiness. It's classy but edgy. It's conservative but free. It almost wants you to get naked, jump into the crowd and do what feels natural to us. Dance, create, enjoy. Inspirations awaits everywhere around you. Pleasant smiles from locals brightens your day. Everyone seems in a hurry but stops when its needed.
And there are plenty of places to rest. One of my favorite is Parque del Retiro. It was built as a retreat place for a Royal family and you certainly feel like one when being there. This urban oasis can't get any better. With live musicians, peaceful lakes, endless amount of garden you truly feel blessed to be there. You can either have a picnic there or go visit nearby Museo del Prado. That sounds pretty enticing, doesn't it?

Another great tip in Madrid is visiting Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home to a football team Real Madrid. And trust me, even though you are not a fan at all, you will enjoy this 2 hour tour, that takes you to the trophy room, players dressing rooms (and showers!), presidential box and the best part: you can go down to the pit area and sit at the players benches. I'd recommend not to have a guide but freely cruise around the 125000 seat stadium. Tickets are around 16 Euros/person.
Talking about food in Spain is almost pointless, since everything tastes so good. We love tapas bars and there are few worth mentioning. Usually tapas come with a drink, but sometimes they don't. We always had to order some extra since we didn't have enough of them. Seriously, I could eat them all day long, good thing I don't live in Spain! Spaniards usually go out around 7pm and have a few drinks and some tapas and then they have dinner around 10pm that can go as late as you wish. Lifestyle that doesn't suit for everyone but definitely great for socializing and simply just living. We tried few places and really liked La Posta del Quitapenas near Puerta del Sol. You can sit outside and enjoy the vibrant feel of the city along with the wonderfully tasteful meal.
When you are in Madrid, you can't leave without trying chocolate con churros. They claim the best ones are in San Gines Chocolateria. Frankly, I didn't think so. The spoon went straight through the chocolate and therefore I shouldn't even mention the word THICK. If you know about a good one, let me know.

When we travel around Europe, the best solution for us it to rent. When you have a child, you want to have some privacy after 7pm, which means a place with more than one room. Since suites in Europe are pretty expensive, renting an apartments will do justice. There are many agencies out there but when in Spain, we were really happy with this one. Our apartment was beautiful, modern (and affordable!) and located right next to Puerta del Sol.
Madrid holds a special place in my heart. I love the rawness and unformed courtliness. City feel but convenient complexion. It feeds my soul to the tiniest bits. If you become a part of it, it swallows you right in front your eyes.You can choose to love it or hate it but I've warned you.. You might easily fall into the first choice.

(all photos by me)

1 comment:

  1. Leni, I fully agree with the apartment rental instead of hotel. When you have kids and you travel for longer than 1 night, that is a must! It is also very affordable, we will do this next year when we are in Prague. When you go to Madrid next time, I am in! :)